Turkish prosecutor investigates Swiss drugmaker Novartis

Ankara chief prosecutor’s office opens investigation into leading Swiss drugmaker Novartis’ activities in Turkey following bribery allegations against company

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, in this October 22, 2013 file photo.

The Ankara chief prosecutor has launched an investigation into the Turkish unit of Swiss drugmaker Novartis, Turkish broadcasters reported on Friday, after allegations it benefitted from bribery.

Novartis has said the allegations against it were "unfounded" and based on a past complaint. Reuters reported this week that an anonymous whistleblower accused the company of paying bribes through a consulting firm to secure an estimated $85 million in business advantages.

Turkey's Health Ministry has also opened a separate investigation into the allegations. A senior ministry official told reporters on Friday that no problems have been seen in that initial investigation.

The results of the investigation will be released next week, Eyup Gumus, undersecretary of the health ministry, told reporters in Istanbul. The ministry on Thursday said it had launched the investigation into allegations the drugmaker secured $85 million in business advantages through bribery.

The anonymous sender's 5,000-word email to Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez and Srikant Datar, chairman of its audit and compliance committee, said Novartis had paid Alp Aydin Consultancy the equivalent of $290,000 plus costs during 2013 and 2014, before the Turkish Social Security Institution (SSI) launched an investigation, leading the drugmaker to end the association.

Novartis, which said it was committed to the highest standards of ethical business conduct, confirmed Aydin had consulted for it in the past and no longer did so.

Novartis' difficulties in Turkey highlight the problems faced by healthcare companies as anti-corruption authorities around the world investigate industry practices.

Last week Novartis agreed to pay more than $25 million to settle a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case over bribery in China.

TRTWorld, Reuters